Jon Montgomery shruggs off pressure and rises to the occasion brilliantly
Jon Montgomery’s path to sporting greatness was nothing if not conventional. He grew up in the Canadian city of Calgary and was working as an auctioneer when he went with his family to watch a local skeleton race. He was enthralled from the start and, despite having turned 23, decided to take up sliding.
He showed talent from the off, but still had to work hard to hone his technique. But just six years after first getting the bug, at the age of 29, he won his first World Cup race, and in doing so secured qualification for the Winter Games in Vancouver. The idea that anyone could go from complete novice to gold medal challenger in just over half a decade seemed absurd, but the skeleton contest quickly developed into a close battle between Montgomery and Latvia’s Martin Dukurs.
Dukurs was fastest over the first run, breaking the track record, but the Canadian responded by clocking the quickest time in the next two legs. However, he still trailed the Latvian by 0.18 seconds going into the final run.
Montgomery shrugged off the pressure and rose to the occasion brilliantly, sneaking into first position to take gold by a margin of just 0.07 seconds. He erupted with joy, only to then apologise to Dukurs, saying that his spontaneous show of jubilation “lacked respect” – an act of sportsmanship that won him even more admirers.
He celebrated victory at a small party with his fans, expressing the hope that his success would inspire more people to take up sport.